Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Can someone mail me an iced caramel macchiato? Thanks.

Mornings are my favorite and hands down the best time of the day. First, they are usually cool, cool to the point where I can sleep cuddling my heavy-ish faux wool blanket, and secondly, it doesn't matter if I wake up and get an early start or if I take advantage of the cold and sleep in, it’s great. Unfortunately, I am human so occasionally I wake up on the wrong side of the bed, and not because my kitten insists on trying to nurse from my furry blanket as I sleep, completely disgusted, next to her and I am too lazy to muster the energy to throw her out of my room (I eventually do though). No, sometimes I just wake up unhappy. Annoyed that I am awake and I have to get out of bed and heat water so I can have a proper bath (unless I am feeling up to a cold shower). Angry that I have to go and talk with people who may or may not be interested in what I have to say. Upset that I slept with my face on my insecticide treated bug net and probably am currently developing some rare malignant tumor on my face (why can’t it just stay tucked in?!). Overall, sometimes I am just a grumpy bear in the mornings. This makes my whole training-for-a-half-marathon-so-I-can-beat-my-mother thing a little tough, since it’s pretty much too hot to run any other time. And yes, the main (only) reason I am “training” for the Vic Falls half marathon is so I can beat my mother. Is this sad? Probably.

I think I am lucky, even if I do have my grumpy mornings, it never stays long and I pretty much always end my days happy. I have had a few moments where I think “If this is how I felt all the time, I’d leave”. I have never truly wanted to leave, because I know that whatever went wrong that day, it’ll be OK and I will move on. I also usually think about what I’d be doing at home and realize I’d be doing nothing of importance, and my grumpy mornings would be more like, “Oh God, there’s 7 people in the Starbucks line! I hope they don’t run out of feta and spinach breakfast wraps!”. Now I’m not saying that isn’t a legitimate concern because I know how good those are, but it’s just a reminder that no matter where I live in the world, I will always have those days. I generally don’t like to write about feeling down (or feelings in general) or being homesick, because it doesn't really matter. I don’t plan on leaving anytime soon because I genuinely like it here.  Every day is an adventure, and sometimes my adventure is watching baby goats fight, or practicing carrying a basket on my head (it’s impossible, they have flat heads or something).

So before arriving we were told about all the free time we’d have and how If there is anything we have wanted to learn or skill we wanted to develop, now is the time. You have two years of seemingly endless free time and I have been trying really hard to start learning all sorts of crap since arriving in country. I think I currently have like, ten books started? And none of them are super interesting to me, it’s all stuff I WANT to know, but there is a reason I don’t know it; it bores me. But, I continue to try and one day, I will know everything! Right now I just look at all the books, articles, and my harmonica, become overwhelmed, and then resort to making potato bread and reading Harry Potter. I stick to what I know, apparently.

I’m also considering trying 30 soups in 30 days. It’s always a party here in Mosetse. Please stay tuned as my blood pressure skyrockets. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A rainy day is a happy day in Botswana.

Last night was (surprisingly) the first time my candles have generated a problem. Boi finally lit her tail on fire. Luckily, I saw right away how stupid she was and blew out the small flame. She proceeded to get pissed at me for blowing on her and began swatting me with her less-than-ferocious little paws. I’m now accepting ideas for cat proof candle holders. I even considered super gluing candle holders to the wall, but decided against that. I don’t think my landlord would appreciate a $1 candle holder inexpertly glued to her wall.
The big exciting news of my life is getting a new (to me) big bed! I can have visitors stay the night now, and they don’t even have to sleep in a hammock! I’m planning on having a little gathering at some point soon. Also, next week all 130(ish) Botswana volunteers are heading down to Gabs for the first ever all volunteer regional meeting. It will be exciting to meet all the volunteers from all the Bots groups, most of the volunteers have never met some of the other groups.
Last week I went to the primary (elementary) school to talk with the headmistress about downloading a fun typing program onto the 14 computers in the lab. She took this to mean I wanted to start teaching computer lessons and that I should probably do it four days a week. I talked her down to two days a week, and even that I thought would be something I did not want to do, but I reluctantly obliged. I went in yesterday, with absolutely no idea what to teach them except how to open the typing program, but turned out I had TONS to teach them. There were about 30 in the class (standard 6-age 11ish) and about 95% of them had never touched a computer. It finally dawned on me that it didn’t matter how little I knew about computers, I could teach them anything and it would be new. We started with the basics; it involved how to hold the mouse, and how to click the mouse. Watching them struggle with the mouse, I could see how foreign it was for them to use their hand that way. The right click and the left click on the mouse were hard concepts to grasp, but toward the end of the hour, most of them had gotten it down. I realized that this is how I probably look to them when I try to do anything new here in Botswana, like dance or make bogobe (porridge). I never remember being taught how to use a mouse, it seems like such a innate ability for anyone in America because we have used computers since we were seven (probably like two now, who knows). Overall, I really enjoyed the class and the hour flew by; this means I am excited for my next class today! They cannot wait to play games, but I figure they should learn how to open a program first, then they  can move on to the really fun stuff. It’s really exciting to be the one to teach them such a useful skill. Technology is becoming more prevalent in Botswana and when they go to University (and they better go!), they will need to know how to use a computer.

Me- “Hello, children. How are you?”
Children- “Hello, teacher. We are fine and how are you?” *erupts into hysterical fits of laughter*

Every. Time.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Hitchhiking, IST, and finally working-oh my!

Dumelang! Word on the newsfeed is that the US is still a little bleak-looking with the snow. Well, let me tell you, we’re in rainy season here and I love it! I’m rarely annoyed of the rain. The only time I ever curse the gods is when I am waiting for a hitch and the rain comes out of nowhere (I’m not kidding it rains when it’s sunny) and who wants to pick up a smelly, wet person? No one, that’s who. Oh, have I talked about how hitchhiking is the norm here?  Story time! So when we all first got our village assignments, the map showed my closest neighbour was only 45k down a road. That’s great! I asked around because the road on the map was labelled a ‘track road’, which I had no idea what that was. I asked some Motswana LCFs and they said it is a road directly to the village, but you can only ‘hike’ it. Hiking? I love hiking! Who knew there would be places to hike so close to me in Botswana?! How silly I was, they meant hitchhiking, of course. The closest grocery store is in that village, which is called Tutume, and it costs 10 pula to get there, or I can go to the main road and get a combi (mini-bus-type-van-thing where they squish 4 people in a row and it is never fun) and go to Francistown for 30 pula. It’s just the way of life; if you want to go anywhere you hitch or take a combi, both you have to pay for. Hitching is USUALLY more comfortable, considering you’re not crammed in a small van, it’s often just cars and trucks and they never make you share seats and I usually get a seatbelt. PC doesn’t like us to hitch (there have been problems in other countries, but very few issues in Bots), but it is not against policy, you just have to be smart about the hitches you take. If it’s just me and a car with 3 guys pulls over, I exercise my best judgement and kindly say “no thanks”. Just don’t be a dummy and you’ll be OK.
All bots-14s were reunited for three weeks in January for our IST-In Service Training. This is the time when we were able to talk to our program managers about what we have planned for our villages and discuss the challenges our peers were facing at their sites. It was three long weeks. But I can’t complain, the hotel was awesome, I didn't have to cook, there was electricity, AND there was a pool. Oh lordy, I almost forgot the wifi! It was wonderful and beautiful. For those of you in America, make sure you give your wifi router a little pat on the back, maybe a French kiss or a quick snuggle, because it is amazing. I really lived the highlife there for a few weeks, but now I am back in my reality of candlelight dinners with my cat. I also came back to a broken toilet (which I kind of fixed with a rubber glove *pats back*) and an angry kitty. She was kind of pissed I locked her in the house for 3 weeks-whoooops. It’s tough being a mother.

The beginning of February brought the start of my full-fledged service. How many times can I write “this is when my service actually begins”, because I feel like I’ve said it quite a few times. But honestly, it really does begin now. Now all 56 of us our off lockdown and we are able to start implementing our projects and programs we’ve been dreaming up since October.  I’m working on a lot of stuff and my schedule is actually filling up pretty fast, surprisingly. Unfortunately, none of the stuff I am doing is really at the clinic where I am based, it is all community stuff. Here is some of the stuff I am doing/trying to do: weekly fitness class, HIV/AIDs support group (support groups are very different here, they involve singing and dancing and it confuses me), computer lessons at the primary school and the library, grant writing for a small business in the community, working on implementing nutrition education into primary school and community, and I am trying to start working at the refugee camp in the next village over! So yeah, that’s what I am doing in Africa, I finally have an answer when people ask and it isn’t, “I sit at the health post and watch babies being weighed”.